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Diabetes Management

Salem Creekside Newsletter - October 2015

Most people don't give much thought to their pancreas until it stops doing its job. But, this tiny organ has a big job. It is responsible for making the hormone insulin, which helps your body turn carbohydrates from foods to energy for the body. When the pancreas stops making insulin or doesn't make enough, or the cells do not respond to the body's insulin, the result is a blood glucose level that is too high.

Some people are born with a genetic susceptibility, are exposed to environmental factors or viruses, or they have a pancreas that falls under attack – that's when Type 1 diabetes may develop.   The precise cause of it is still unknown, but it's usually attributed to an autoimmune process and many individuals with this type of diabetes are diagnosed at a young age.

Gestational diabetes is a form of diabetes brought on by insulin resistance created by the developing fetus that often resolves after the birth of the baby, but puts the mother at greater risk for developing Type 2 diabetes in the future as there is often a genetic factor. The ever-popular glucose test that all expectant moms take screens for gestational diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is a form of the disease that is developed over time and is influenced by one's lifestyle. It can run in families and have a genetic risk, but environmental risk factors can play a role in developing the disease. In other words, you can do a lot toward preventing Type 2 diabetes by making healthy lifestyle choices.

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Increase your activity level and exercise regularly
  • Eat a healthy diet low in fat and high in fiber
  • Stop smoking

Type 2 diabetes is responsible for nearly 95% of diabetes cases in the United States, according to the CDC.
If you are overweight, eat poorly, or lead a sedentary lifestyle, a change in activity level and diet may seem daunting. Rachael Beyer, MBA, RD, CDE, LD recommends that you start by making small changes, talk to your primary care provider, who may refer you to a Registered Dietitian or a Certified Diabetes Educator like herself. "Government food guidelines have changed a lot since most people learned about them in school," she says. "We know a lot more now about how food affects health." A registered dietitian can help work towards behavior changes; develop a meal plan, set goals and offer resources for physical activity.

Beyer says there are warning signs that should be discussed with one's provider, especially if Type 2 diabetes runs in the family.

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased hunger
  • Fatigue
  • Increased urination, especially at night
  • Weight loss
  • Blurred vision
  • Sores that don't heal

These are symptoms that may also indicate pre-diabetes, when blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. Many people with pre-diabetes develop Type 2 diabetes within 10 years, but Beyer says that is a good thing as "Pre-diabetes is a wake-up call," she says. "You can do a lot to improve your health and reduce risk of development of type 2 diabetes with that amount of time and warning."